Conscientious scholarly preparation of fourth through senior grade level students
Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.
-Abigail Adams, 1780
For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Essentially, The Branch School will be preparing all grade levels for their senior year in high school and beyond. Employing Harkness in the presentation of substance and method, we seek to create more advanced tiers of knowledge and articulation in all of our students. This is mirrored and amplified through the promotion of critical thinking innate to our coursework. We do not teach students what to think, we teach them how to absorb, interpret, and formulate sensible conclusions.
For example, we engage students with a spirited study in history. We will support them in developing causative interpretation. This entails a more inclusive, detailed examination of the event background-the history behind the history. Herein, they will be exposed to historiography, the philosophy of history in terms of methodology used in scholarly research and articulation. Historical explanation, factuality, and objectivity in the writing of history are at the core of its study. Much of the debate in session will provide students with similar analyses.
A second exposure will be that of linguistic history—the understanding of terms and the terms which led to them. Companion to the material, therefore, is on-going sub-study of ancient languages and especially etymologies: early lingual fingerprints left at the scene of civilization are evidence of a people.
From Sumer to Staten Island, if there were no evidences of languages, it would have suggested there had been no people. If there were no people, there would have been no culture, and, as such no civilization to derive from it. We teach students the importance of this linkage. The languages of Antiquity and the Middle Ages are the bases for our language today.
Additionally, outside source material, directly related to the focus of study, is included in discussions, debates, reviews, to assist more exhaustive exposition. Introducing such augments study and understanding of course texts, provides authentication, and offers other perspectives for better critical evaluation. In the study of history, it helps students recognize the parallax, perspective, parallel, and pentimento in understanding why things are not always as they seem. This ability to recognize and apply interpretation will also become useful in other coursework over time.
Paralleling this type of exposition is biblical history-historic human events sharing correspondent biblical era focus. In so doing, the Old Testament/BC period may be viewed as the response to God, and that of the New Testament/AD period as the reaction to Jesus Christ, for example. Students will be able to visually and narratively graph the sinuated intersections of both notable and lesser world events along the eternal timeline of God’s constancy throughout all of human history.
Broadening their scope, The Branch Christian School also introduces students to foundational philosophy, Christian theology, and comparative religion courses, befitting their grade level and slightly beyond. These studies are presented principally through the social studies courses, literature, and art classes as well.
Illustratively, these adjuncts in philosophy will concentrate on the thought, theories, and principles put forth by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as acquainting students with the philosophies of the Cynics, Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics, the Eleatic and Cyrenaic schools, and so forth. They will be further able to incorporate the thinking of Rousseau, Locke, Hobbes, Montesquieu, and others, with that of the early Greeks in the development of political foundations leading to established republics. Therein, students will have sufficient understanding to merge philosophic eras to the thought processes of our Founding Fathers and their infusion of biblical precepts to build a nation, wherein scripture assisted in the prototyping the United States Constitution.
Rounding out such exploration will be samples of the rich contributions Christianity has made to classical culture in literature—from Dante Alighieri to Browning, in art—with such as Sasetta and Botticelli to Raphael and Holbein, and in music—from Bach, Handel, Albinoni, and Corelli, to Mendelssohn, and others. Our hope is to augment class studies with field trips, attending museums and sacred choral presentations. These not only expose students to culture, but provide them with the irrevocable evidence and impact of Christianity throughout the ages to this day.
Comparative religion segments will examine Judaism and Islam, the Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Persian, and Eastern cults and religions. Similarly, we will explore the belief systems found in Russellism (Jehovah’s Witnesses), Mormonism, Christian Scientism, Adventism, Scientology, Unitarianism, and the like, contrasted with Christianity. Therein, focus is given to the interrelationship of humanism, hedonism, and secularism, with apposite detail and the biblical response to such.
Thus, layered within curricular courses, we will delve into the interesting thoughts, theories, and theologies, the philosophies and absolutes, as well as the literary, artistic, and musical assets inherited from ancient, medieval, and modern contributions to history.
Space dust and sea squirts…
Generally, public schools will not address The Creation, instead endorsing a willful misinterpretation of Constitutional law regarding it. However, they do mandate successful instruction in (and acceptance of) cosmic big bang and evolutionist theory. Thereto, some Christian schools will not examine either theory in avoidance of any secular influences. This may prove a lost opportunity for actually strengthening students’ faith and their understanding of opposing philosophies.
The Branch School views both sides of this miasma differently. We do not teach big bang and evolution…but we do teach about them. Appropriate courses will examine, with a certain amount of detail, the suppositions of Raffinesque, Lamarck, Darwin, Hubble, and others, regarding the origin of the universe and human life.
In such examinations, we will discuss biogenesis derived from astrogeological minutiae. We will explore the stochastic nature of time and location in ‘space’, relative to a ceaseless universe experiencing an implosion the size of a pin point to render a solar system still in perfect harmony.
We shall consult Genesis, Chapters 1 and 2…every step of the way. We will stage debates at the table, in a science, biblical studies, or history class. In part, this is what we mean by conscientious preparation of these grade level students. In all of our courses, and the material appertaining, the truth and light of scripture provides the ultimate verifier, for reasons that will become apparent to students. Scripture is necessarily interwoven into most of the curriculum, as it is in life.
We simply want our students, early on, to be versed, steadfast, and secure in faith and application to intelligently and successfully withstand the worldly confrontation into which they are entering. Our desire is for them to have enduring discernment and wisdom, not ephemeral and false erudition, which is always, seemingly, a product of the times.